Penn State University’s interim football coach Tom Bradley said he’s assured players they’ll take part in a bowl game if invited, after questions of whether the team would participate in the postseason amid a child sex-abuse scandal that led to the firing of coach Joe Paterno.
“The players and the guys on this team didn’t have anything to do with any of this that’s surrounding them,” Bradley said at a news conference. “I did address that because there were rumors swirling around that if we make it we won’t be able to go to a bowl game. I told them that was untrue.”
Bradley took over last week when Paterno, 84, was fired along with university President Graham B. Spanier, 63.
Bradley said he hasn’t spoken with Paterno in the past week and didn’t watch the NBC interview last night during which Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach, said he isn’t a pedophile while acknowledging he made a mistake by showering with underage boys. Sandusky was charged with assaulting eight boys from 1994 to 2009.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr., a Pennsylvania Democrat, called today for Senate hearings into how well federal laws apply to the Penn State child sex-abuse investigation, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported. It cited a letter from Casey to the leadership of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Bradley, 55, said his discussion with the team about a possible bowl appearance is part of his effort to keep players informed during a difficult time. The Penn State coaches have also contacted football recruits, establishing a conference-call line to answer questions.
“Basically they’ve had a lot of questions come up that I’ve tried to answer with them, being very transparent about what I know, what I hear,” Bradley said about communicating with his team. “I try to keep them all in the loop and make sure that we’re all on the same page.”
For the players, football practices have been a welcome diversion from the media attention at the school, Bradley said.
Penn State lost its first game under Bradley last week, 17-14 to the University of Nebraska. The Nittany Lions have an 8-2 record entering their Nov. 19 game against Big Ten Conference rival Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.
“This is all about the players,” Bradley said. “It’s still football. We’re both fighting for the title, so there’s a lot on the line. It will still be a very spirited match regardless of what’s going on.”
Bradley said there are no safety concerns as the team prepares for its first road game since the scandal.
“We’ve been contacted by Ohio State,” Bradley said. “We’ve been assured there will be no problems.”